READ: While they were staying with Lydia in Philippi Paul and his friend Silas went out into the city to find a place to pray. While they were walking a young girl who was enslaved followed behind them, shouting at everyone that Paul and Silas were sent by God. She was known to be a fortune-teller, and her owners made money from her visions. Paul was exasperated at her endless shouting, for this was not the way he intended to share the good news of Jesus. He turned to face the young girl and he healed her. Once healed she could no longer tell fortunes, which made her owners very angry.
Her owners grabbed Paul and Silas and dragged them before the city leaders. Together with the crowd, they hit Paul and Silas with rods. The two were thrown in prison, with their feet in chains.
Around midnight Paul and Silas were singing hymns and praying. All the other prisoners were listening to them sing and pray. When suddenly there was a great earthquake. It was so strong that the shaking opened the prison doors and loosened all the prisoners’ chains. The jailer woke up and saw the doors to the prison open and he was afraid that he would be punished if the prisoners had escaped. Paul shouted out to the jailer that they were still all there. The jailer was so grateful, that he asked Paul to tell him more about Jesus and what he needed to do to be saved. He was so grateful he took Paul and Silas to his own home and washed their wounds. The jailer wanted to follow Jesus, so that very night he and his entire family were baptized. (Acts 16:16-34)
WONDER: I wonder how did Paul and Silas listen to the Holy Spirit?
I wonder how it feels to be led by the Spirit?
I wonder why Paul and Silas decided to sing and pray in prison?
I wonder what the other prisoners thought when they heard Paul and Silas sing and pray?
I wonder how the jailer felt when he learned that all the prisoners were still there?
SAY: Today we have heard three stories of bondage and freedom. The young girl who was a slave is freed from her forced work of fortune-telling. Paul and Silas are freed from prison. And the jailer finds freedom in following Jesus.
PRAY: Let’s pray. Dear God, thank you for always being near us, in good times and in bad. Help us to trust in you and your love for us. Amen.
READ: Paul returns to our story today. After he had heard Jesus’ voice when he was traveling on the road to Damascus, Paul became a follower of Jesus. He traveled to tell people about Jesus and God’s love. Everywhere he went he told others about Jesus, and many people believed in Jesus. They began to meet in each other’s homes to pray and learn more about Jesus. One night Paul had a dream in which a man asked him to come to Macedonia. The next day Paul made his way over to Macedonia and went to a city there called Philippi. He and his friends were looking for a place to pray, and they went down to the bank of a nearby river.
There they saw some women praying. One of the women was named Lydia, she was a business woman who bought and sold expensive purple cloth. Peter and his friends talked about Jesus, and Lydia listened closely. Listening to Paul telling how Jesus had changed his life, Lydia was moved. In her heart she knew she wanted to follow Jesus, too. She and her whole family listened to Paul, and they believed in Jesus. Paul baptized Lydia and her family in the river where they had met.
Lydia was happy to learn more about Jesus, so she invited Paul and his friends to stay at her home. While they were there, Paul continued to teach about Jesus. After Paul and his friends left, Lydia continued to welcome other followers of Jesus into her home, where they could worship and pray together. Her home became what was called a house church. (Acts 16:9-15)
WONDER: I wonder why the women were praying at the river?
I wonder how it felt to hear Paul’s story of Jesus?
I wonder what it feels like to be baptized?
I wonder why Lydia invited Paul and his friends to stay with her?
I wonder what is the most important part of this story?
I wonder where you are in this story?
SAY: Today we heard the story of the beginning of a house church, when Lydia opened her home to others who wanted to follow Jesus.
PRAY: Let’s pray. Dear God, thank you for people who welcome us, who make space for others. Help us to be people who welcome others as we share your love with our world. Amen.
READ: Peter was staying in a city near the sea called Joppa. It was the same city where long ago the prophet Jonah had gone to tell the people of God’s ways. Jonah had not been happy to be sent to Joppa--it was a city far from his home, and he didn’t want to share about God with people from another country. Despite his reluctance, the people had been convinced by Jonah’s preaching and had turned toward God.
One day Peter was up on a rooftop waiting for lunch to be ready. It was a warm day and he soon fell asleep. Peter had a strange dream, he saw a sheet holding all sorts of creatures, and a voice telling him to eat. But the creatures were things which Peter had been told not to eat since he was a child. Three times Peter had this dream, and he wondered what this dream meant.
While he was wondering, there was a knock at the door. Three men stood there, having been sent by a Roman commander, Cornelius, to come find Peter. He had also had a dream and had been told to send for Peter. Peter went with the men and met Cornelius. Suddenly God’s Spirit helped Peter to understand his strange dream. God’s story of love was not for Peter and his people only--the message of love was for the whole world. He baptized Cornelius and all the others there. (Acts 10:1-11:18)
WONDER: I wonder how Peter felt when he had this dream?
I wonder why Peter decided to go with the men who were sent by Cornelius?
I wonder what made Peter change his mind?
I wonder how Cornelius felt to hear the story of God’s love?
I wonder what part of this story you like best?
SAY: In this story Peter learns that the good news of Jesus was for everyone, not just for his friends and family. God wanted Peter to welcome others with openness, even if they were different from him.
PRAY: Let’s pray. Dear God, thank you people who help us learn more about your love. Help us accept others as your children, whom you love, just as you love us. Amen.
READ: When the gift of the Spirit was given to the followers of Jesus, they did amazing things, just as Jesus had done. They came together to share food and resources, to study scripture together, and to pray. Some people were healed by the disciples. They did amazing things in Jerusalem, in Samaria, and in other towns, too.
In the town of Joppa there was a believer named Tabitha who had also received the gift of the Holy Spirit, she did what Jesus would do, but in her own special way. Tabitha helped the widows and the poor. She made clothes for them. Many people loved her.
One day Tabitha got very sick, she was dying. After she died, her friends were sad. The women she had helped took water and cloth and washed her body, and then they placed her upstairs. Other disciples sent for Peter. When he arrived, people whom Tabitha had helped were crying. They told stories about how much she had given to others and showed him the clothes she had made. Peter was moved by this, and he began to pray. He turned to her and said, “Tabitha, get up!” And she opened her eyes. Peter took her hand and helped her up.
When everyone saw she was alive, many people believed in Jesus and began to follow the way that was the kingdom of God. (Acts 9:36-42)
WONDER: I wonder why Tabitha helped people in need?
I wonder how the people were feeling when Tabitha was dying?
I wonder how Peter felt when he saw her friends crying?
I wonder what it was like to see that God made Tabitha alive again?
I wonder what the people will do in their own special way to show their love for God?
I wonder what is the most important part of this story?
SAY: In this story we see that the Holy Spirit helped people learn to follow Jesus, by doing things which help others. Tabitha followed Jesus by helping those in need. Peter followed Jesus by teaching and healing others. And when people saw Tabitha and Peter following Jesus, many wanted to follow Jesus, too.
PRAY: Let’s pray. Dear God, thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Help us learn to help others, just as Jesus did. Amen.
Weekly Faith Conversations
Use these guides as conversation starters with your family. A short retelling of the scripture passage is offered, or you may want to look the story up in your own bible or in a children's bible. The wondering questions are written to open up faith exploration with children and adults.